The Franchise Application
Getting to know a little more about you as a prospect is one of the first things franchises are interested in. The initial franchise application process is a screening mechanism by which franchisors begin to determine your interest and qualifications.
Today, it is common to find initial franchise application forms on franchisors' websites - but most will be happy to send you one as well. This is a good stepping off point for beginning the communication process. You should not only take this very seriously, but also expect to spend some time gathering the information and completing the application.
Most franchise applications include many of the same requests for information, and it can get quite detailed.
One of the fundamental requests you'll discover will deal with the specifics of your current financial situation. The franchisor will want to know about your personal assets (and liabilities), for example, because they want to make sure you have enough financial resources to operate the business in case it runs into unforeseen financial difficulty.
And it won't just be your financial status the franchisor is concerned with. You will probably also be asked about your spouse's financial state. Some franchisors will want to know if you have financial partners or backers. These are all important questions.
Again, the franchisor wants to be sure that you, your spouse, and your partners are prepared to make the financial commitment necessary to start and run a franchise business successfully.
Beyond finances, you'll encounter detailed questions concerning your experience, education, background, and even aspirations. These questions are designed to help the franchisor determine whether or not you meet their profile. In other words, they want to know if you're the kind of person they think will be able to run the business successfully and fit into their franchise system. They do this not only to protect their brand but also their existing franchisees.
Successful franchise organizations depend on franchisees who follow the franchise system completely. As a result, they don't want people who they perceive as too independent, or people who won't play by the book because they like to experiment and try out their own ideas. In one sense, franchising is not for those who think outside the box. In this business, there's no need to reinvent the wheel.
Franchise applications are kept confidential and neither the franchisor nor the prospect is bound in any way by the submission of the initial application. Again, take the time to fully and accurately complete the application and return it to the franchisor promptly. You can then expect a quick response and most likely a telephone interview with a franchise representative.
What you can expect to find - and be asked - in a typical franchise application form:
- Detailed personal information: including all contact information and other biographical and character background
- Business interests: they'll want to know if you ever owned a business, have been involved in any kind of litigation/arbitration, or have any partners
- Location preferences: will usually ask for cities/territories you're interested in and any alternates you would consider as well as if you are open to relocation
- Detailed employment history: where you have worked, what you did, for how long, and annual compensation
- Educational background: and any other pertinent training/experience
- Personal financial statement: assets, liabilities, net worth, source of income, and total income
- General inquiry: many franchisors will want to know what you already know about them, their franchise opportunity, and why you are interested
7.6: Speaking With Other Franchisees
7.8: The FDD: What To Expect